Karapatan hits death threats directed against rights defenders in Negros Occidental

Human rights alliance Karapatan raises the alarm on the series of threats by suspected State forces to intimidate rights workers and activists defending people’s rights in Negros Occidental.

According to reports, human rights activists in the northern and southern parts of the province have received death threats over the week through a social media user with name “Eagle Eye” whose photo in profile is an Army soldier.

Along those human rights activists targeted by “Eagle Eye” and an individual with cellphone number 09501662528 are the following: Felipe Levy Gelle, Jr., Deputy Secretary General of September 21 Movement; Kimpert Alipoon and Rodrigo Wayang, Jr. of Paghidaet sa Kauswagan Development Group Inc. (PDG); and a certain student activist.

“The latest death threats received by human rights workers in Negros Occidental prove that the government’s militarist policies such as the Memorandum Order No. 32 and Oplan Sauron have cultivated a fertile ground for intimidation and harassment of people critical of the anti-people policies perpetrated by no less than the Duterte regime and big local compradors and landlords, known for perpetuating the feudal exploitation in the countryside,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General.

Recent reports state that both Gelle, Jr. and Alipoon have received photos of coffins and a message asking them to choose the soldiers want they want to use for them. According to Gelle, Jr., he was told that he has time until December of this year, while Alipoon was told by “Eagle Eye” to tell the latter of the date Alipoon wants to meet with the 62nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. 

Meanwhile, Alipoon’s colleague, Wayang, Jr., reported that an unnamed individual called him and told him that he will be eating bullets and shot in the head, and that his house will be burned down. The student activist, on the other hand, was warned by “Eagle Eye” that should he not accept the opportunity being offered by the military, they will declare him a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and that he will be disposed afterwards.

Last May 1 of this year, Gelle, Jr. and his colleague Dharyll Albañez, were also charged with trumped-up cases after they reported to authorities the presence of a suspected military agent during a protest action organized by progressive organizations during labor day.

“Both Alipoon and Wayang, Jr. are both as staff members of PDG, a development organization for peasants founded by lawyer Benjamin Ramos who was among the hundreds of individuals wrongly tagged as members of the CPP-NPA and murdered in the island since last year. It can be well-remembered that almost all of those killed were red-tagged. Like what we have always warned, State-perpetrated vilification lays the pretext for coldblooded extrajudicial killings,” she said.

“After the series of mass murders led by State forces, the whole island still suffers from relentless fascist attacks. With this recent incidents of threats directed against our fellow human rights defenders, it is imperative that we push back and fight back against this reign of tyranny,” Palabay concluded.